Brainerd students unveil video histories of city leaders

Brainerd High School teacher Riley Bogema.
photo Brainerd High School teacher Riley Bogema.

If you go

› What: Video history project premiere.› When: 6-7:30 p.m. today, May 19.› Where: Brainerd High School, 1020 N. Moore Road.› Admission: Free.› Phone: 423-855-2615.

Learn Their Stories

Leaders included in the Brainerd High School video histories:* Carol Berz, City Council, District 6* Pete Cooper, McKenzie Charitable Foundation president* Moses Freeman, City Council, District 8* Tom Griscom, communications consultant and 1967 BHS graduate* Eddie Holmes, Chattanooga Housing Authority chairman* Lurone Jennings, Department of Youth and Family Development administrator* Reuben Lawrence, retired from Beasley Distributing/Anheuser-Busch* Spencer McCallie, former McCallie School headmaster* Linda Mines, chairman of the History and Social Sciences Department at Girls Preparatory School* Diane Parks, Leadership Chattanooga director* Tommy Pruitt, Chattanooga Community Kitchen housing manager* Chris Ramsey, health-care professional and 1984 BHS graduate* Dot Saunders, Family Promise of Greater Chattanooga social worker* Edna Varner, Public Education Foundation senior adviser

A video project that details the personal history of "well-known leaders and unsung heroes" of Hamilton County will be unveiled tonight, May 19, at Brainerd High School.

A class led by teacher Riley Bogema has created a library of personal history videos that cover events from the turbulent 1960s, including the school's integration, through more current events. After a short presentation in the school auditorium at 6 p.m., students will premiere their videos in classrooms. The free event will conclude by 7:30 p.m.

"Their stories will delight you, inspire you and take you by surprise," says Zena Hanner-Buckley, a counselor at Lakeside Academy of Math, Science and Technology and group leader for one of the 2016 Leadership Chattanooga teams who helped students with the project. "We all learned a lot during this project about what it means to live in Chattanooga."

Bogema, the project's creator, says the idea was to recognize Brainerd's "long and proud history" in the community.

"Through this project, we sought to connect students to the personal histories of leaders," he says. "Some of those leaders also happen to be Brainerd High graduates. The Leadership Chattanooga team helped set up the interviews, edit the videos and provided vital assistance we needed to engage our students."

The project spanned the winter semester of classes. Leadership Chattanooga is a 10-month professional development program managed by the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce for emerging and midcareer leaders.

Demba Sow, one of the students who interviewed City Councilman Moses Freeman, says he felt like the interviews gave him an opportunity to experience history in a unique way.

"I learned a lot of things from Mr. Freeman," he says. "He told us how life was back then in Chattanooga, and it was so in-depth. We usually learn about racism in school as a state standard, but to actually interview an African-American who witnessed it all was an amazing experience."

Student Shanaya Stallion interviewed Brainerd graduate Tom Griscom, a communications consultant.

"Mr. Griscom told me about his time serving in the military, how he attended Brainerd High School as a child and about the time [former President] Ronald Reagan gave the Berlin Wall speech. Mr. Griscom also helped write the speech. It was a great experience interviewing and learning about others from my community."

Parking for the event is available in the Brainerd High School lot across the street from the Brainerd community tennis courts off North Moore Road. Light refreshments will be provided.